Student body must pull together to end homophobia

by Pieter Ott | 11/9/95 6:00am

To the Editor:

I need to reply to the homophobic attacks that occurred last week. Just like Melanie Popper '99 stated in the Nov. 6 issue of The Dartmouth ("'Homophobia' distressing") , I came to Dartmouth with an idea in my head of a conservative school (albeit caught up in the national movement towards diversity) filled with like-minded students. Now in my second year here, I can say that I have been pleasantly surprised at the open-mindedness and accepting nature of many of the students and administrators here. In fact, the College has turned out to be almost unabashedly liberal -- mercifully so for many students, less so for others. Despite this, the climate here is not nearly as accepting as it could be. The superficial appearance of liberality doesn't change the fact that there are certain people who pride themselves upon being stereotypically Dartmouth -- upon expressing the hackneyed and hatefully racist, sexist and homophobic views associated with the College.

What I would like to do is to call upon the student body to pull together, as morally responsible individuals, to bring about the final change. Do not allow these beliefs to continue to create an atmosphere of hate and fear on and off the campus. If you hear a person make denigrating comments toward or about another person, do not accept it as inevitable; correct him and have him consider what he is saying. If you witness an act of violence or vandalism against a person or group, report it immediately. If you have friends who are in need of support in the current repressive climate, help them find the support they need. And finally, question your own beliefs. Can you countenance the idea that any one group is intrinsically inferior and deserving of abuse, and can you allow these beliefs to persist?

Dartmouth has great potential to be what it needs to be for everyone, but for it to reach that point will take an effort on everyone's part. Don't let it fail because you didn't want to act. Act.